Waiting for sales and buying cheaper brands of groceries are the two most common changes New Zealanders made to their spending habits during the recession, a new survey shows.

The survey carried out for AMP found 57 per cent of a sample size of 502 people had changed their spending habits during the past 12 months by waiting for sales before buying items. Cheaper brands of groceries were being chosen by 53 per cent, while 49 per cent were spending less on socialising and entertainment, 49 per cent were buying takeaways less often, and 47 per cent were going to cafes or restaurants less often.

The rising general cost of living was the main concern of 26 per cent of respondents, and among the other concerns of 46 per cent. Job security was the main concern for 14 per cent, and ability to pay household bills was the main concern for 9 per cent, according to the survey which was published today. It also found 13 per cent had cancelled regular saving and 15 per cent had cut back as a result of the recession or concerns about their financial situation.

Mobile phone use was cut back by 14 per cent of respondents and cancelled by 2 per cent, while 9 per cent cancelled a magazine or newspaper subscription, 8 per cent cancelled regular charitable donations and 5 per cent cancelled gym memberships. Weekly household spending was higher than a year earlier for 43 per cent of respondents, and lower than a year ago for 30 per cent. Altogether 68 per cent of those in the survey said they were shopping smarter as a result of the recession, by doing such things as buying more items on specials, buying in season and sticking to a shopping list.

Asked how they felt about their financial security for the rest of 2009, 17 per cent were very positive, 41 per cent positive, 24 per cent neither negative or positive, 15 per cent somewhat negative, and 2 per cent very negative. AMP workplace savings manager David Wallace said people had used a range of initiatives to get by, with the most popular appearing to be growing their own vegetables.

Other initiatives included sharing bulk food purchases among extended family, swapping clothes at work, making their own pet food, and brewing their own beer and wine.

New Zealanders appeared to be developing habits out of necessity that may be beneficial in the long term, Mr Wallace said.

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